CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mischaracterized data provided by Shana Charles, Ph.D. The error was corrected May 11 at 1:53 p.m.
Around 100 constituents attended the Indivisible California District 39 “die-in” rally in front of Representative Ed Royce’s office Wednesday in opposition to his “Yes” vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that passed in the House of Representatives Thursday.
CSUF alumna Sarah Goodwin, event coordinator, wanted to show Ed Royce what would happen if the AHCA passes in the Senate, repealing health care for over 24 million Americans.
“I remain concerned about the rising cost of health care for Southern Californians and am listening to the feedback I have received from my constituents on this bill,” Royce said through spokesperson Audra McGeorge in a May 3 email.
During the rally, 24 participants expressed reasons why they would die if they no longer had health care including a man with stage-four pancreatic cancer and a woman advocating for mental-health issues because her mother committed suicide.
Each participant gave their cause of death and then laid on yoga mats across the ground, holding a white flower.
CSUF assistant health science professor Shana Charles, Ph.D., was among the participants in the demonstration.
“This is in honor of my two daughters both who were born with conditions that require them to take medication daily. I thank God that I have health insurance and can afford their medication and I have been able to since they were born,” Charles said in her speech. “If that were not the case, then I would have to choose between feeding them and paying for their medication. They very well could have died because they couldn’t afford the drug.”
A woman wearing a black cloak representing death rang a bell after each of the speeches and symbolic deaths, prompting three seconds of silence between each speaker.
Ralliers held signs that said “Bye Bye Ed Royce Time 2 Go,” “Block Trump Care, Shame, Shame, Shame,” and “24 million Americans will lose health care, don’t you care?” and a large banner that read “Royce’s border wall of shame.”
As a health-insurance and health-care expert of 20 years, Charles refers to the bill as “the death to American’s Act.”
“There is scientific evidence that shows that if that act were to come through and be the law of the land, we can quantify how many people would die every year in direct response because they lost their health care,” she said.
If passed, the AHCA will rid 24 million people of their health insurance and studies show around 40,000 uninsured people, almost equivalent to the Cal State Fullerton student body, would die annually from preventable causes, Charles said.
After the “die-in” demonstration, they chanted “Ed Royce hear our voice” and “Repeal and replace Royce” as they marched to the corner of Brea Boulevard and Imperial Highway.
Robin Follman, chief operating officer of Markall, a manufacturing company, refused to join in the protest as she walked by the rally.
Everyone should have a right to affordable health care but does not think it is the government’s responsibility to penalize organizations, companies and people to make sure that happens, she said.
“I think Ed Royce has been an advocate for all people. I think he is in a very difficult position because he can’t please all people and that is going to be a challenge with any politician nowadays because we have gotten so far along on supporting platforms versus listening to people’s individual needs, that it makes it difficult for him to be popular no matter what,” Follman said.
The Indivisible constituents said they felt like Royce did not listen to their voice.
“We want it to be clear to him that we are not going away. We are going to continue to rally. We are going to continue to visit his office. We are going to continue to make calls to fight for what we believe in,” Goodwin said.